BUENOS AIRES (Nov. 19)
Catholics and Jews agreed here on the need for “practical measures aiming at a better mutual understanding and esteem” between the two faiths.
That was the tenor of a joint statement issued at the close of a meeting last week between a high-ranking delegation of the Latin American Bishops’ Council and the leadership of the World Jewish Congress’ Latin American branch, held at the WJC offices. The statement also expressed “the desire to strengthen relations in interreligious activities on the continent,” the WJC reported.
According to Manuel Tenenbaum, director of the WJC’s Latin American branch, the interfaith meeting was arranged in the context of an increasingly turbulent political and social environment on the continent.
“Given the growing and volatile nature of the problems and forces currently affecting South America, both religious communities felt an urgent need to exchange views on a coordinated basis so as to face the common challenge,” Tenenbaum said.
The participants addressed an agenda which included the problems of missionary activity and proselytism, the relations of both faith communities with youth and an analysis of Jewish-Catholic relations on the continent from the point of view of doctrine and pastoral practices within the framework of “the guidelines and suggestions” of Vatican Council II.
The conferees stressed the positive path which Catholic-Jewish relations have taken since the “Nostra Aetate” declaration of Vatican Council II which explicitly rejected as non-Christian the charge of deicide against the Jewish people.
Tenenbaum reported that at the outset of the meeting, Bishop Sinesio Bohn noted that the week marks the 46th anniversary of the infamous “Kristalhacht” when 91 Jews died in an orgy of destruction of Jewish property by Nazi gangs throughout Germany. He expressed on behalf of the Catholic delegation its homage and solidarity with the Jewish people in commemoration of that awful event of 1938.